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July 3, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Update: Kenneth Bae pleads for help in prison video

Update 3:01 p.m.:

CNN has obtained exclusive video from Choson Sinbo, a pro-North Korean organization, showing Kenneth Bae’s first interview from a hard labor camp where he is serving a 15-year sentence for “hostile acts” against the country. In the video, Bae speaks in Korean. CNN translated his comments as follows:

“Although my health is not good, I am being patient and coping well,” Bae said. “And I hope that with the help of the North Korean government and the United States, I will be released soon.”

Kneeling on the ground and wearing a prison uniform, a visibly thinner Bae revealed July 4 is his father’s 70th birthday.

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Also, I just learned via Twitter (h/t @randallito) about this petition by Jonathan Bae, who identifies himself as Kenneth Bae’s son. The petition calls on President Barack Obama to send a delegation to North Korea to secure Bae’s release.

Original post:

We can’t seem to get enough of The Worm and his worldly ways. If NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman can use his celebrity to smooth relations with North Korea and secure the release of Lynnwood’s Kenneth Bae during his August trip back to the land of Kim Jung Un— then I say he deserves some serious props for diplomacy.

Of course, Rodman wants more. Have you seen him on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated?

NBA Hall of Fame player Dennis Rodman graces the cover of Sports Illustrated's annual "Where Are They Now" issue. (PHOTO BY CLAY PATRICK MCBRIDE/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED)

NBA Hall of Fame player Dennis Rodman graces the cover of Sports Illustrated’s annual “Where Are They Now” issue. (PHOTO BY CLAY PATRICK MCBRIDE/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED)

According to this July 2 preview story by SI correspondent Ben Golliver, the former Chicago Bull says he deserves to be considered for a Nobel Peace Prize after his recent foray into North Korea with a crew from Vice Media. Rodman’s visit was the subject of Vice on HBO’s season finale. (I’ve embedded a fascinating four-minute clip at the end of this post.)

From Golliver’s write-up:

Rodman plans to return to North Korea in August. “I’m just gonna chill, play some basketball and maybe go on vacation with Kim and his family,” Rodman says. “I’ve called on the Supreme Leader to do me a solid by releasing Kenneth Bae.” The Korean-American missionary was recently sentenced to 15 years of hard labor on charges that he tried to topple the North Korean regime. He’d organized tours into the isolated state.

“My mission is to break the ice between hostile countries,” Rodman says. “Why it’s been left to me to smooth things over, I don’t know. Dennis Rodman, of all people. Keeping us safe is really not my job; it’s the black guy’s [Obama’s] job. But I’ll tell you this: If I don’t finish in the top three for the next Nobel Peace Prize, something’s seriously wrong.”

It’s great to see Rodman hasn’t forgotten about Kenneth Bae.

By now, many of you know I challenged Rodman to set aside his ego in this May 3 blog post to use his friendship with the North Korean dictator to bring attention to Bae’s plight.

To my surprise, he responded four days later.

So what now? If there’s a chance this post actually reaches Rodman, I’d recommend he check out our numerous editorials here and here calling for Kenneth Bae’s release on humanitarian grounds. The tour operator was arrested last November after leading a group of tourists across the Chinese border. Our most recent editorial published June 25 encourages the North Koreans to show they are serious about their offers to hold direct talks with the U.S. by committing to denuclearize and letting Bae return to his family.

I wish you well, Dennis Rodman. Hope this August trip to North Korea pans out. Safe travels. Find out Kenneth Bae’s whereabouts. Try to see him. Bring him home.

Finally, as promised — here’s that fascinating clip from Vice on HBO‘s much-talked-about season finale on correspondent Ryan Duffy’s visit last spring to North Korea with Rodman and members of the Harlem Globetrotters:

Comments | Topics: basketball, Dennis Rodman, diplomacy


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